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Carrie and Cleopatra: a Play in Four Acts.
Page Count
Publication Year
Document Types
Unexamined Writings
Unpublished Writings
Original Typescript (tss)

Although performed at the small Torch Theatre in London in April 1939, with Louise Hampton originally earmarked to play Ursula/Cleopatra, and with assistance from Bates's long-time supporter Violet Dean, the play closed after a brief unsuccessful run and was never revived or published.

The Times (April 10, 1939, p. 8) summarized the play in advance of its opening as follows: "Its subject is the decay of a certain section of society, and the story is told through the lives of the two daughters of a Midland business man as they are affected by their father's successes and failures." Jonathan Cape's choice not to issue it would later figure in the dispute with Bates about contracts and book options that eventually severed their relationship.

The play survives in a typescript in the British Library ( In The World in Ripeness (p. 119) Bates writes of his various attempts to be a dramatist, writing seven or eight three-act plays; regarding Carrie and Cleopatra, "though giving good acting scope to several of the actors, it wasn't very well received. I was not unnaturally disappointed, though undeterred."

The New York Times critic says "what sets it apart from the ordinary commercial play is that it is honestly, not sensationally, written, and aims rather at carrying its audience with it than at stunning criticism by a knockout blow." While the Spectator criticizes various "faults of construction and method which a more experienced writer would have avoided," it also notes "merits which few professional dramatists seem able to honesty and a verisimilitude extremely rare in the theatre. The characters are not presented to us with all their qualities at once observable in the play's opening moments; they develop scene by scene as genuine persons."


  • The New York Times (May 14, 1939, p. 131, Charles Morgan, attached)
  • The Observer (April 30, 1939, p. 13, Ivor Brown, attached)
  • Spectator (May 5, 1939, p. 760, Derek Verschoyle, attached)
  • The Times (April 26, 1939, p. 14, attached)
  • Sunday Times (April 30, 1939, p. 4, James Agate, attached)
  • New Statesman and Nation (April 29, 1939, p. 648, attached)
  • The Stage (April 27, 1939, p. 13, attached)